Hyderabad based Kausheyam works through a network of approximately 400 artisans around the country. Some of their fabrics and blends include Tussar mulberry silk, tussar cotton, tussar matka, tussar khadi, tussar linen, Maheshwari, and Chanderi. In an exclusive chat with Textile Value Chain, Priyamvad Kabra, Head (Operations), Kausheyam, speaks on the trends on buying silk-made products, challenges and way ahead.

As a manufacturer of silk products, what are the key ways you are innovating in terms of design andquality?

Our production is based on traditional hand-weaving techniques, in which we can vary our designs,yarns, blends, from product to product. Unlike bug power-looms, we do not require a big quantity ora big order to make the changes we desire. The art of hand-weaving is dying, it is on the verge of abolishment. Reviving this art in tune to modern needs is our focus.That being said, our key way of innovation is to make blends of yarns, with new designs. We use all kinds of natural materials, like Cotton, Khadi, Muga, Tussar, Matka, Eri, and we make blends using these fabrics. Tussar Muga, Tussar Khadi, Silk Khadi, Khadi Matka, etc.As far as designs are concerned, change is a way of life. There are some designs that are evergreen,and since handwoven production can not be produced in bulk like factory products, the demand isalways constant. Other than these evergreen designs, there are experiments carried out in terms ofdesign in almost every batch of production.

2. What types of silks you make and what are the key trends you notice in the buying patterns in silks?
As mentioned above, we produce all kinds of natural silks (Wild silks). Cotton, Khadi, Silk, Matka,Muga, Tussar, Linen, Eri, Gheecha etc., and blends of all of these silks with each other.There are different belts of weavers for different fabrics, and the production of all of these fabrics isyear long. However, the sale of all of the products is not year long. This is where the buying patterncomes into consideration while planning production.Fabrics like Cotton, Khadi, Linen, Sico (Silk Cotton) are primarily sold in the summers. These are light fabrics, and the market demand rises in summer. Similarly, Matka, Tussar, and Gheecha are fabricsthat are primarily sold in winters. However, Tussar, being our specialization, is sold all year round,and the seasonality of it is only affected as per the geographical segmentation of our clients.Most of what we make is traditional wear, and the local (retail) market of it usually functions all year.
3. What types of machines you have and what kind of challenges you notice in getting the right performance?
Our production is based on handlooms, and there is barely any machinery used. The challengesaren’t too many, as our machinery is only limited to the functions of finishing the woven and printedfabrics.
4. What kind of challenges did you face while procuring raw materials and exports?
Unfortunately, India is dependent on China for major silk yarn. India has its own production, butwe lack highly in terms of both quality and quantity. Hence, the production of yarn in house is notfeasible.We are dependent on importers, who seem to have their own syndicate. These importers are very limited in number, which enables them to reap the benefits of this fact, especially in peak season.They dictate the prices and raise them as per the market demand. This affects our margins largely, ascosts keep fluctuating. These fluctuations can’t be dealt with by our customers, and hence, the burden falls on us.Intervention of the Central Government is very important, as the whole industry suffers due to this.We can’t import directly, as the quantity in play is not large enough. The complications are too manyto deal with for small scale production.
5. While there are many thoughts going around on opting for ‘Ahimsa Silks’, do you think, many will start opting for the same?
The thoughts going around are a bit over-exaggerated. This goes to scientific reasoning, as people are against the usage of silk cocoons. The insect that comes to life from the cocoon survives for probably a day, as it ends up being fodder for bigger animals. However, the silk cocoon employs thousand of weavers, and provides for clothing and accessories for thousands.Some say that the work is dirty, but it is this work that provides for the livelihoods of plenty of people and goes a long way in traditional clothing in the country. Eri is a form of Ahimsa Silk that we use, the production of which is very low. It originally comes from North-East India, typically Assam, and the market in the country prefers Tussar and other blends to this fabric.
6. What are your expansion plans both domestic and international markets?

The handloom textile industry has a limitless potential. With the rising requirements of sustainable fabrics, and with focus into original, ethnic, heritage products, the market offers a potential in manyways and levels.As far as the domestic market is concerned, it is pertinent for us to focus more and more on to theretail market and use the right techniques of marketing for building our brand. This paves the wayfor an online market as well, and also acts as an introduction to further expansion into different cities and states.For international markets, the fairs in France, Italy, Germany, and some in The USA offer big opportunities for operating in markets in Europe and North America. These opportunities have notbeen explored yet, they have only been talked about. But with extra hands in the business, and anew zeal to expand and diversify, these opportunities will start being used as and when they are presented.
By- B Swaminathan